Novel treatment for life-threatening lung condition wins NSF support


WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A Purdue University-affiliated startup developing a novel treatment for a life-threatening lung condition has won a $256,000 Small Business Technology Transfer Phase I award from the National Science Foundation.

Spirrow Therapeutics offers help for patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome, or ARDS, by restoring lung function with a nanopolymer surfactant that can be administered through the trachea as a fast-acting liquid or preemptive aerosol. The startup team also is looking to use the technology to help those infected with COVID-19.

“We want to offer new hope for those patients with ARDS,” said Rich Ganz, CEO of Spirrow Therapeutics. “This is an exciting time because our work ties in closely with the research being done around the world to address COVID-19.”

Contagious viral infections such as COVID-19 are a common cause of pneumonia, which can develop into ARDS.

ARDS can be caused by pneumonia, septic shock, trauma, inhaling chemicals or other trauma. The United States has more than 200,000 cases a year of ARDS. About 40% of people with ARDS die, and there are currently few treatment options.

Spirrow Therapeutics was co-founded by You-Yeon Won, a chemical engineering professor in Purdue’s College of Engineering, and his former students Davis Arick and Kyle Kim. Originally interested in neonatal lung function, the team turned its attention to ARDS after discovering a greater need there.

The co-founders worked with the Purdue Foundry, an entrepreneurship and commercialization hub housed in the Convergence Center for Innovation and Collaboration in Purdue’s Discovery Park District, adjacent to the Purdue campus.


About Purdue Foundry

The Purdue Foundry is an entrepreneurship and commercialization hub whose professionals help Purdue innovators create and grow startups. The Purdue Foundry is housed in the Convergence Center for Innovation and Collaboration in Discovery Park District, adjacent to the Purdue campus. The Purdue Foundry has been involved with creating more than 300 companies. The Purdue Foundry is part of the Purdue Research Foundation, which received the 2019 Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities Award for Place from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. In 2020, IPWatchdog Institute ranked Purdue third nationally in startup creation. For more information about involvement and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at [email protected]

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a top public research institution developing practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges. Ranked the No. 5 Most Innovative University in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, Purdue delivers world-changing research and out-of-this-world discovery. Committed to hands-on and online, real-world learning, Purdue offers a transformative education to all. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels, enabling more students than ever to graduate debt-free. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap at

Writer: Chris Adam, [email protected]

Source: You-Yeon Won, [email protected]

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